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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Collaborating Partners

(in alphabetic order)

Prof. Dr. Ying Cheng
Assistant Professor of Management
School of Economics and Business Administration, Chongqing University, Chongqing

Prof. Dr. Martin Hemmert
Professor of International Business
Korea University, Seoul

Prof. Dr. Adam Cross
Professor of International Business
International Business School Suzhou (IBSS), Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU)

Prof. Dr. Masahiro Kotosaka
Associate Professor, Faculty of Policy Management
Keio University, Tokyo

All collaborating partners are well connected to the local entrepreneurial community, investors and public policy makers.

Start-ups in Asia – the role of agglomerations and international linkages

 February 2015 - ongoing

The rise of the internet-economy and the advancement of computer, life science and new material technologies have multiplied the potential of new business solutions. High-tech start-ups are seen as an important vehicle for exploiting this potential. They have close links to respective scientific knowledge bases. Their initially relatively small size allows for many parallel trial-and-error ventures. At the same time, they possess a strong growth potential due to their high knowledge intensity and/or to the digital character of their product or service, so that the winning idea can can quickly be scaled to a global market size generating high returns to investors, but also creating new and often well paid employment. The strategic importance of start-ups for innovation and growth has made them not only an interesting object of research, but also a target of economic policy at the national as well as regional and local level.

From a functional perspective it is well known what start-ups need – availability and access to high-class research, a financing infrastructure well-tuned to the specific needs of different development stages, including exit options via IPO, access to qualified personnel, open markets, a regulatory and tax environment favourable to the risk profile of start-ups, and last but not least a culture that nurtures and supports entrepreneurial spirit. What is less known is the importance of the geographic dimension regarding the functional prerequisites. There are in fact two opposing strands of literature – one stressing the importance of regional or local clusters in providing the essential eco-system for start-ups, the other pointing to the need for strong international linkages to tap global research, global investors, global talent and global markets.

Our research project will look at both geographic aspects, namely the local conditions and the international connections. Empirically we will focus on some of the largest agglomerations in Asia, namely Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Suzhou and Chongqing. Leading research questions are

  • How important are local conditions and international linkages with respect to the functional prerequisites?
  • How do local and international conditions relate? Do they complement each other or can they be substituted?
  • How does the importance of local and international conditions as well as their interaction vary across the different agglomerations?

The comparative character allows us to see how regulatory, economic, social and cultural factors shape the relative importance and interaction of local conditions and international linkages. Last, but not least the focus on agglomerations in China, Japan and Korea contributes to better understanding of countries that, especially in the case of Japan and Korea, have so far not been considered as providing start-up friendly eco-systems and have therefore attracted less research interest. Besides compensating for this lack of interest, we will update and if necessary correct the traditional image.

From 2018 to 2019 the project received financial support from the Korean Research Fund, Global Research Network Program.

Recent Publications

Waldenberger, Franz, Hemmert, Martin, Cross, Adam R., Cheng, Ying, Kim, Jae-Jin, Kotosaka, Masahiro & Zheng, Leven J. (2023). "Environmental uncertainty and the entrepreneurial orientation–performance relationship among East Asian new technology‑based firms: an institutional perspective". Asian Business & Management, published online. LINK
Waldenberger, Franz, Hemmert, Martin, Cross, Adam, Cheng, Ying, Kim, Jae-Jin, Kotosaka, Masahiro & Zheng, Leven J. (2022). "The influence of founders’ human capital on the performance of new technology-based firms in China, South Korea and Japan: an exploratory study". Asia Pacific Business Review, online first (pp. 1-26). LINK
Waldenberger, Franz, Hemmert, Martin, Cross, Adam R., Cheng, Ying, Kim, Jae‑Jin, Kotosaka, Masahiro & Zheng, Leven J. (2021). "New venture entrepreneurship and context in East Asia: a systematic literature review". Asian Business & Management, 21 (pp. 831-865). LINK
Waldenberger, Franz, Hemmert, M., Cross, A. R., Cheng, L. J., Kim, J., Kohlbacher, F. & Kotosaka, M. (2019). "The distinctiveness and diversity of entrepreneurial ecosystems in China, Japan, and South Korea: an exploratory analysis". Asian Business & Management, 18 (3) (pp. 211-247). LINK


September 15, 2015
IT Start-ups and new Digital Business Models in Japan

June 11, 2015
DIJ Forum
Encouraging Entrepreneurial Spirit in Japan

February 11 - February 12, 2015
Situation of Start-ups in Japan/China/Republic Korea